Police launch coordinated raids on Italian mafia in Europe

Marsha Scott
December 8, 2018

Hundreds of police are understood to have been involved in the operation in Belgium, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.

Wednesday's operation came after a two-year investigation into the Ndrangheta criminal group on allegations of cocaine trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence.

Authorities said they conducted raids in Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands in a crackdown on the 'Ndrangheta, a southern Italy-based organized crime group.

In Germany, the raids - which are part of Operation Pollino - are focused on the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where the mafia has traditionally had a large presence.

Eurojust, which is based in The Hague, will give more details about the raids at a press conference at 12am.

"Today we send a clear message to organized crime groups across Europe", Eurojust Vice-President Filippo Spiezia said.

Five suspects were arrested in the Netherlands, where Dutch prosecutors said the investigation began in 2014 after they noticed money laundering at two Italian restaurants in the south that showed criminal links with Germany and Calabria, home of the 'Ndrangheta.

Fred Westerbeke, chief prosecutor of the Dutch Prosecutor's office, said authorities seized roughly $2.27 million in the raids, along with amounts of ecstasy and cocaine.

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The 'ndrangheta "is the most important organized crime group in the world", said Gen. Alessandro Barbera, who commands the investigative unit of Italy's financial police corps.

But he warned that it was "just a first step", saying the arrests were "nothing for the 'Ndrangheta, there are thousands of people who should be arrested and billions that should be seized".

The European police agency Europol said it was a "decisive hit against one of the most powerful Italian criminal networks in the world".

Officials said by midday of the operation, nearly 4,000 kilos of cocaine and hundreds of kilos of other drugs were seized.

He said that groups of the 'Ndrangheta and its allies had infiltrated ports around Europe to ease drug smuggling, and have "polluted" lawyers and accountants in numerous countries on their payrolls.

The operation comes a day after Italian police arrested the supposed new "godfather" of the Sicilian Mafia, Settimo Mineo, in a dawn raid.

Just under half of the suspects were detained in Italy.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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